Lan Su Chinese Garden hires security to combat emerging Old Town violence

Elderly volunteers fear for their safety

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By Jeff Hart https://www.flickr.com/photos/ipeguy/ Via Flickr Creative Commons https://www.flickr.com/photos/ipeguy/6087263220/in/photolist-agUPh9-agS1vZ-agUCR5-agUNUC-agUNuw-tgm4xC-agRXdr-TibpoS-tsUc1E-agUHwJ-P2Kq8f-agRWei-Qj7V5t-P2KqeY-agUK1y-GXi2Ma-agRTVz-FBQfTG-A5QNDB-oAveV4-agRSAv-agRUpF-zLUdzF-2fsvFbr-EBbhig-oAusZq-oQwbfn-24PRKUP-TibpwC-Tibpt1-24PRL2T-TibpmC-2fmL3JL-Tibqt7-2fmL3Nd-TibqPN-2fmL3Sm-sBgR47-24PRKLx-TibqA1-TibpDb-TibqFm-agUMJW-2fmL3Zf-2fmL3zs-2fmL3DW-TibpHE-24PRKDD-TibpyS-2fmL3vE

Portland’s Lan Su Chinese Garden, heralded as one of the city’s greatest treasures, is struggling to stay afloat. In a report by KGW8, businesses and non-profits in Portland’s Old Town District have been trying to overcome both the economic consequences of the pandemic as well as recent assault and vandalism incidents in the area.

In 2020, there were five homicides in Old Town where there were none the preceding year. 20 shootings were reported in the last year with the vast majority reported in the last 6 months.

Another threat the Lan Su Chinese Garden faces is the increased attacks against Asian Americans. Many of the Lan Su volunteers are older, Chinese Americans who have already been racially targeted. Hate crimes against Asians in 16 of the nation’s largest cities and counties went up by 164%, according to a new study from the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at Cal State University San Bernardino.

The Lan Su Chinese Garden, one of those businesses struggling to keep their employees and visitors safe, has taken serious safety precautions in light of vandalism, assaults and drug use. Elizabeth Nye, the executive director of the garden, sent out an email newsletter about the situation at hand.

“I have had staff assaulted. I have had people chasing after them with metal pipes. We had somebody die on the streets right next to [the garden]. We have had gunshots. All of this is too much to ignore and not address. We will do what is necessary for us to keep our staff, our visitors and our volunteers safe,” Nye said. 

In an interview with KOIN 6 News, Nye shared that for the first time in 21 years, the museum has had to hire private, armed security. On the Lan Su Chinese Garden website, Nye posted a “special message” informing guests and members of the new changes.

When asked what Portland city leaders could do, Nye said, “The situation in Old Town requires a level of urgency that I haven’t seen yet.”    

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